When you’re a divorced parent without primary physical custody of the children, your child support payments can be a constant source of financial struggles. That only gets worse when times are tough and you’re experiencing a sudden drop in your income or a temporary period of unemployment.

What do you do? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Put your child’s needs first. The court will generally expect you to prioritize your child support payments over all but your most basic expenses. That may mean letting go of any small luxuries you currently enjoy or putting other, less-important bills to the side for a while.
  2. Keep good records. You may be contributing to your child’s needs in some way outside of the system. If so, keep a record of everything you spend or give, whether it’s money for clothes or a new computer. It could become important if you’re asked to show what you’ve done, particularly if you make any partial payments directly to your child’s other parent.
  3. Talk to your child’s other parent. While they cannot forgive your child support obligation nor lower it, keeping them apprised of the situation (instead of just letting them find out when you miss a payment), shows your concern for your child’s needs. It can also keep the other parent from taking legal action over a missing payment.
  4. Ask the court for a modification. If you anticipate problems with your financial situation that aren’t likely to be soon resolved, it’s time to ask the court to revise the amount of support you have to pay.

Keep in mind that it’s wisest to act quickly in these kinds of situations. If you need to obtain a modification of support, an experienced attorney can help you.